Dig­ger’s brav­ery

Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry

Townsville Bulletin - - Our Defenders -

WHEN Pri­vate Mar­ley Bird re­alised there was a tree pre­vent­ing him from shoot­ing his grenade launcher at the en­emy, he bravely risked his life to save his mates’ by run­ning out in the open to put a stop to the heavy fire.

Pte Bird has been awarded a Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry for his heroic act which took place in the Miribad Val­ley on De­cem­ber 2, 2009 Afghanistan .

In re­ceiv­ing the pres­ti­gious award, which is the fourth high­est hon­our for gal­lantry, Pte Bird joins an elite group of just 37 sol­diers to ever re­ceive the Com­men­da­tion.

This num­ber in­cludes 20 ex­e­cuted World War II Prisoners of War, who were re­cently awarded Com­men­da­tions posthu­mously for their brave ef­forts in try­ing to es­cape from Ja­panese forces.

Pte Bird said a rocket at­tack was launched near his pla­toon house by the en­emy and af­ter the sol­diers re­acted to the sit­u­a­tion, they were pinned down in an em­bank­ment by heavy fire.

‘‘ We were try­ing to push up this em­bank­ment and we couldn’t push any fur­ther up with­out hav­ing to go into the open and ex­pose our­selves,’’ he said.

‘‘ I got the or­der to get my 40mm grenade launcher and fire down range so I was in cover but I had to run out into the open to fire a grenade at their po­si­tion.

‘‘ There was a tree in the way so I couldn’t fire it from where I was so I im­me­di­ately thought, ‘ I need to get this down range’ so I just ran up the bank, ran out into the open, took fire po­si­tion and shot it.

‘‘ Once it landed, there was no more fire com­ing from that po­si­tion so we were able to get out of cover and push across the field into the bazaar and into cover again. From there we were able to push through and clear the vil­lage.’’

Pte Bird’s award was an­nounced on Aus­tralia Day this year and he is ea­gerly await­ing the ar­rival of his Com­men­da­tion.

The mod­est 1 RAR sol­dier said he didn’t ex­pect any recog­ni­tion for his ac­tions, but was proud to re­ceive the award.

‘‘ I know ev­ery­body says it, but I was just do­ing my job . . . it was a good day when I found out I was get­ting the award.

‘‘ Ev­ery­body was putting down cover fire and do­ing all-round se­cu­rity, the boys were there do­ing their job which helped out with what I had to do. I would love to go back to Afghanistan.’’

with de­fence writer Emily Mac­don­ald

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